Exclusive Interview with Jeff Goins about Self-Publishing
Jeff’s the author of Goins Writer one of the most popular writing blogs online with over 200,000 monthly readers, the author of “Wrecked” and his latest book, “The Art of Work”. He’s also the founder and teacher of one of the fastest growing online courses for writers, Tribe Writers.
As successful and popular as Jeff Goins has become, he’s still a down-to-earth guy, whose number one goal is to help his readers, and especially his Tribe Writer students, achieve their writing dreams and more.
Interview with Jeff Goins:
Jeff, thank you for agreeing to this interview. You’ve been successfully helping writers become published authors through your Tribe Writers online course for several years now, and I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you a few questions about self-publishing, platform building, and your popular class.
Q: Today anyone can self-publish their work, which has created a publishing revolution whereby authors can completely bypasses the publishing gatekeepers. However, there are still a lot of people who see self-publishing as vanity publishing. What is your take on self-publishing and the “Publishing Revolution?”
I think it’s awesome. There used to be only one “legitimate” way to publish a book. Now, you have a choice. If you do the work of building a platform and connecting with an audience (as you have done, Bryan), you can choose how to publish. You don’t have to wait to be picked.
It’s a wonderful time where writers are the most empowered they’ve ever been. (Tweet)
Q: Do you believe self-publishing has lowered the overall quality of publishing?
I think any time you remove gatekeepers from a system that has existed for 500 years, you’re going to see a large influx of people exercising their freedom. And with that quantity comes a diminished quality — for awhile, anyway. But I believe as with anything, the cream will still rise to the top.
Now more than ever (since anyone can now publish), it’s important for you to set yourself apart as someone who has something important to say.
Q: Why should an author consider self-publishing?
Because you can. Because you will respect the publishing process more once you’ve done it. Because you’ll appreciate how hard it is to sell and market a book. It may even lead you to go with a traditional publisher next time or figure out how to work with a distributor. Or you may be awesome at it.
In any case, it’s a no-lose scenario. I often meet authors who first self-published and then leveraged that opportunity to get a traditional book contract. But that doesn’t even have to be the point; the point is:
You’ve got something to say, and the world needs to hear it. (Tweet)
Q: Should authors still seek out agents and attempt traditional publishing?
Not first, necessarily, but in addition to.
Q: Are there still benefits to working with a traditional publisher?
Yes, I think so. The main one being increased distribution and the ability to work with an entire team of experts (if you’re lucky).
Is it the only way or always the best way? No, of course not. But it should be an option you consider. And as with self-publishing, if you’ve built a platform, you will have a choice.
Q: In your experience what are the most important factors when self-publishing that authors should take into consideration?
There are three of them: 1) build an audience that anticipates your work BEFORE it comes out, 2) write a really good book, 3) and launch it well. The audience-building part is essential, especially for the self-published author. The quality of book will help you stand out from the masses. And a good launch will give your book enough lift to reach new people and give it a good shot at long-term sales.
Q: Tribe Writers is an online writing and platform course you created for authors who would like to build a platform and get the audience they deserve, as well as publish their work. In what ways is building a platform important for the self-published author?
It is essential. Without a platform, you’re gambling. Does that mean you can’t still succeed without one? No, of course not. But it raises the stakes and increases the risk. The best way to ensure your book sells is to build an audience around the content before you publish. And the best way to do that is through a platform that leverages permission and trust.
Q: For those who already have an established platform, how important is it to have a published book, regardless of how it is published?
My friend Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson, a book publishing company) says a published book is still the number one way to identify yourself as a leader or expert in a category. I agree. But what I love even more about a book is that it’s a shareable idea, a consumable piece of content that spreads your message and connects with people.
I love blogging, but nothing connects with a reader quite like a book. Even with a substantial blog following, I’ve been surprised by how many new people my books have reached that my blog never could.
Q: Building a platform sounds great, but it’s not easy and a lot of people have written and published on their blogs and websites for years, but haven’t seen much in return for their time and effort. How does your Tribe Writers course help those who already have a platform such as a blog, but are still struggling to find an audience?
There are a few distinctions of the course. First, it focuses on the craft of writing, particularly the importance of a writer’s voice. Everything hinges on that.
Then, we dive into the idea of writing for a worldview, which is a fancy way of saying we get really intentional about writing for a specific audience, one that connects with your unique perspective.
And then we emphasize the importance of service, of pushing your audience and challenging your readers in ways that might not be comfortable but are definitely good.
All of that together creates a pretty powerful platform.
Q: You’ve reached your first year’s anniversary with Tribe Writers, congratulations! How does that feel, did you reach as many people as you expected, and where do you plan to take the course in the next year?
More. Much more. I’ve been amazed at the community that’s formed around this course. In many ways, the relationships and connections are far more valuable than the content. I’m honored to be a part of it.
Q: There are a lot of authors who are struggling to share their message and get their work published, and are on the verge of giving up and letting go of their dream. What would you like to say to those who are frustrated and ready to call it quits?
Don’t quit. We need your voice. In the end, what it means to be a good writer has less to do with skill and more to do with perseverance. Stick with it; you won’t regret it.
Q: Do you have any new projects that you’d like to share with us?
I’m really excited about my new Snippet, which tells the stories of nine people (via video) who are learning to embrace the in-between moments in life.
I’ll also be offering some limited coaching to the next round of Tribe Writers. Pretty exciting.
Q: How does it feel for some dude on Twitter to broadcast that his 4 year old asked “Hey, isn’t that Luke Skywalker?!” when he saw a picture of you?
Pretty awesome. I’m a huge Star Wars geek.
Thank you, Jeff, for your thoughtful answers and your time. And congratulations on the success of Tribe Writers!
Thanks, Bryan. The honor’s all mine. You’ve done an amazing thing with Positive Writer. I’m a fan.
Did you enjoy the interview? Do you have any questions about the Tribe Writers course or self-publishing? Share with us in the comments.